Spain Considers State Of Emergency For Virus-hit Madrid
A Madrid Emergency Service (SUMMA) health worker checks the temperature of a man prior to a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 in the southern neighbourhood of Vallecas in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. About 5.2 million people in Spain, including nearly 4.8 million residents in or around Madrid, are under restrictions on movement due to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Snchez is holding an emergency Cabinet meeting on Friday morning to consider declaring a state of emergency for Madrid and its surrounding region in order to impose stronger antivirus restrictions on the reluctant regional governors.
- Associated Press
- Last Updated: October 9, 2020, 18:39 IST
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MADRID: Spains government declared a state of emergency in Madrid on Friday, wresting control of efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 from local authorities in a region that is experiencing one of Europes most significant coronavirus outbreaks.
The step, which took immediate effect and lasts for two weeks, forced Madrid authorities to restore restrictions on travel that had been introduced by the national government but were struck down the previous day by a Madrid court ruling.
That successful legal challenge by Madrid officials was part of a long quarrel between the countrys main political parties over their coronavirus response. Those differences, and the changing rules, have often dismayed and confused local residents.
Well, it is all very nauseating, Vicente de la Torre, a 22-year-old Madrid mechanic, told The Associated Press. We have no idea what we should do or what we shouldnt do.
The government announced the state of emergency after an emergency Cabinet meeting in the wake of the court ruling. Health Minister Salvador Illa said the previous measures would come back into force and that only the legal framework for them was changing.
He told a press conference it was undeniable that there is community transmission in the Madrid region, not just isolated outbreaks, at a crucial juncture as winter approaches and respiratory problems increase.
The Madrid regions 14-day infection rate of 563 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents is more than twice Spains national average of 256 and five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending Sept. 27.
The national government had ordered police in Madrid to fine people if they left their municipalities without justification. The measure covered 4.8 million residents in Madrid and nine suburban towns.
But Madrid’s conservative regional government opposed those restrictions, saying they were draconian and hurt the economy. Madrids regional president, Isabel Daz Ayuso, said her own, more moderate measures were enough to fight COVID-19.
A Madrid court on Thursday upheld the regional governments appeal, saying the national governments imposition of restrictions violated peoples fundamental liberties.
The spat has taken place against a backdrop of political differences: Spains national government is led by the center-left Socialist party, while the Madrid region is run by the countrys main opposition party, the conservative Popular Party.
It seems to me like an ideological war that is trying to show who has more power, said 18-year-old student Marta Illo. They (the Spanish government) dont really like the regional government of Madrid. And we the people of Madrid are paying the price for a fight that is really political and has nothing to do with us.”
Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal. Joe Wilson in Barcelona contributed to this report.
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